It was early in the morning and once again Pilate found himself dealing with the religious squabbles of the Jewish people. Their scruples were irritating and their religion tedious, yet he was forced to deal with them. It seemed that this was going to be another day of playing his part in their ridiculous schemes, placating the Jews for the sake of his job. Once again, a man broke their religious laws and the Jews wanted Pilate to do their dirty work; they wanted this man dead.
At first glance, the man was not what Pilate expected. He did not behave like the other rude zealots. He did not curse or shout out. He did not fight against the soldiers. In fact, he said nothing. He did nothing. The man was facing death and wouldn’t even defend himself. Who does that? When Pilate tried releasing him the crowd shouted all the louder. Pilate didn’t particularly care about the Jews or their laws but, for some reason, doubt was plaguing his soul. He could find nothing wrong with this man. Why he cared, he didn’t know, but he did not want this man’s blood on his hands. Still, he sent the man off to be crucified. (John 18)
And it is here, in the midst of this political and religious chaos, staring Jesus in the face, that Pilate wrestled with one of the most profound and plaguing questions of all time: What is truth?
Who doesn’t wrestle with doubt and knowing what the right thing to do is? Even among the most mature Christians,there are differences of opinion. You listen to one side of an argument and it seems grounded in wisdom. And then you hear the other side of the argument and that seems equally sound and wise.
What’s a girl to do?
What is discernment?
I recently heard it said that discernment is the ability to recognize what is right and what is not, what is good and what is not. And if you’re constantly seeking what is good then what is not good will stand out.
The only way to know what is good is to seek it and the only way to seek what is good is to seek God. Thankfully, the scriptures are filled with wisdom and insight into what is good. So much so that it can be overwhelming. The challenge then is keeping it simple enough to remember yet profound enough to change us. That’s where Philippians 4:8 comes in. It is simple, it is clear, and it is life changing.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
So we need to be captivated by the truth, but like Pilate said, what is truth? By definition truth is fact. If truth could change from moment to moment or person to person then it would not be truth because truth is unchanging. Discerning between truth and lie, what is good and what is not, is a skill we need to master.
Clinging to truth
Here are three questions that I have learned to ask during times of doubt:
1. Is this first-hand information from a reliable source?
When information passes from one person to another and then to another, it is going to change. Maybe, in some cases, the facts themselves don’t change but the interpretation of the facts will. The way the story is told will change. People who are trustworthy don’t share information out of turn. Learn to recognize gossip and avoid it. Any information shared from gossiping lips should be taken with a grain of salt or better yet, disregarded all together.
A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. (Proverbs 16:28)
A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. (Proverbs 11:13)
2. What does scripture say about it?
Scripture can be easily taken out of context to support a personal agenda. The only way you will know if this is happening is by reading the Bible for yourself. Be like the Berean Jews, of whom Paul said, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)
Don’t believe that the Bible teaches something just because someone told you it does. Find out for yourself and back up that scripture with another scripture.
3. Is this consistent with the character of God?
Somethings are just too much for us to understand. For example, why do good people suffer for things they didn’t do? Why do good people die young? In these cases, we have to cling to what the Bible says about God and live in that space.
Here is a list of truths to cling to:
- All good things come from God (James 1:17)
- God has a plan for you, and it is good (Jeremiah 29:11)
- God’s ways are better than ours, even when we don’t understand them (Isaiah 55:9)
Dignified by truth
I truly believe that as we seek the truth and live by it, we will become noble in character like those Berean Jews Paul spoke of. With truth comes dignity, Dignity in thought and dignity in action. First comes truth, then comes nobility. Embrace the truth, and your life will be dignified. Yes, please! I’d like some more of that.
Do you cling to the truth?